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A house that once was
2018
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Summary

A New York Times Best Illustrated book!
A Boston Globe Best Children's Book of 2018

"Accompanied by Lane's evocative art that suggests layers of history, Fogliano's story turns this childhood scenario into a radiant poem about the mysteries of other people and the wonderfulness of home." -- New York Times

Deep in the woods
is a house
just a house
that once was
but now isn't
a home.

Who lived in that house? Who walked down its hallways? Why did they leave it, and where did they go?

Two children set off to find the answers by piecing together clues found, books left behind, forgotten photos, and discarded toys, creating their own vision of those who came before, in this deeply moving tale of imagination by Ezra Jack Keats Award-winning author Julie Fogliano and Caldecott Award-winning illustrator Lane Smith.

Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 3-A wizard of wordplay and a maestro of composition combine their considerable talents to explore the notion of home. With a stylistic nod to e.e. cummings and just enough rhyme to propel the pace and please the ear, Fogliano tracks siblings as they approach and enter an abandoned house. Her lines about the dwelling are a study in contrasts. Once it was, but now it isn't a home. The boy and girl notice: "A door that is closed but not quite. A door that is stuck between coming and going. A door that was once painted white." As the children peruse books and objects, they extrapolate conclusions about the owners. Perhaps the man was a sea captain, the woman-a painter. Smith's complex, layered illustrations first depict an impressionistic forest world, rich with a bouquet of deep, dappled colors. (A note on process adds appreciation.) Lighter wildflowers grace the foreground, and a bluebird-a character to watch-transports a worm. Inside the house, it's as if the pages have been bleached; sunlight streaming through roof holes renders possessions transparent. Collage elements, such as a mouse poking through a portrait, add humor. As the imagined inhabitants assume center stage, the oil paintings take on more solidity and definition. While the final sentence reinforces the opening message, a concluding iris shot-with bluebird and babies singing merrily on branches that have invaded the structure-suggests an alternate narrative. VERDICT Stirring to the eye and the spirit, this evocative book repays frequent readings. Perfect for one-on-one sharing.-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Deep in the woods is a house that once was but now isn't a home. Thus begins a beautifully written tale of two children, a girl and a boy, discovering an abandoned, boarded-up house at the end of a winding, overgrown path. The two climb inside and discover items the former inhabitants left behind, including a hand mirror, books, faded pictures, and an artist's palette that has them conjuring up possibilities as to who used to live in the house. Smith employs different techniques for his remarkable illustrations to show the two distinct sections of the story. When the children are exploring the building, the pictures have a mottled appearance with paint splatters and patterns gracing the backgrounds. When revealing the children's imaginings, the pages exude a calmer feel and use paper-collage textures that are almost palpable. Though the two children think they are alone in their explorations, their every movement is closely observed by a perky, inquisitive bluebird with a worm. Acclaimed author Fogliano (When's My Birthday?, 2017) offers up lyrical, free verse text that blends stunningly with Caldecott Honor Book illustrator Smith's (Grandpa Green, 2011) amazing illustrations to create a timeless feel and an outstanding picture book.--Owen, Maryann Copyright 2018 Booklist
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